By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples´ Struggle
March 31, 2018
We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), welcome and applaud the historic visit of Kim Jong-un, President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), to the People’s Republic of China as a further significant positive step to ease tensions and end the state of war in the Korean Peninsula imposed by US imperialism.
While official accounts and statements about President Kim’s visit to China do not provide details of the official’s exchanges and agreements, the issue of peace in the Korean Peninsula was surely high on the agenda. The visit which lasted from March 25 to 28 was the first foreign trip by President Kim Jong-un since he assumed leadership of the DPRK in 2011.
It took place just weeks ahead of a possible summit with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea next month and later with President Donald Trump of the US. It came a month after a high-level meeting of officials from north and south Korea agreed to form a unified team to represent all of Korea at the just concluded Winter Olympics held in PyeongChang.
All these efforts demonstrate the sincerity and commitment of the DPRK’s leadership to de-escalate tensions in the Korean Peninsula and find a diplomatic course to avert a full scale war with the US involving the potential use of nuclear weapons.
Indeed, the Korean War has not officially ended, only an armistice exists. That war was not between North Korea and South Korea but between the Korean people and the U imperialism which divided Korea along the 38th parallel in order to “contain communism.” The US has rotated and stationed hundreds of thousands of troops in at least 15 US bases in south Korea since the armistice began. The reported level of land-based US troops in 2017 in south Korea was 23,400.
Throughout the Cold War, the US deployed nuclear weapons in the country continuously, from 1958 to 1991, peaking at an all-time high of approximately 950 warheads in 1967. It officially withdrew its nuclear stockpile from south Korea in 1991 but maintains its “nuclear umbrella” over the region using nuclear bombers and submarines based elsewhere. It has also been conducting annual “Team Spirit” exercises with south Korean forces since 1976 involving nuclear-capable U.S. planes.
This is the backdrop to the DPRK’s own nuclear weapons program. Time and again, the DPRK has made it clear that it only seeks a deterrent from possible nuclear attack from the United States which is the only country in history that has used nuclear bombs against civilian populations.
But even during the time of the great Korean leader Kim Il-sung, the DPRK has sought to normalize diplomatic relations with the US to pave the way for the peaceful reunification of Korea. In negotiations with the Clinton administration in 1994, the DPRK committed to dismantling its plutonium reactor in return for much more “proliferation-proof” light water reactors and a U.S commitment to normalize political and economic relations with Pyongyang. But this was never taken seriously by the US.
Now under Donald Trump, the US has ramped up its war-mongering against the DPRK, threatening to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” against north Korea. Aside from annual military exercises with south Korean troops that simulate an invasion or pre-emptive strike against the North, the US has recently deployed the anti-baliistic missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the South. It has also deployed three Aircraft carriers and accompanying strike groups to the Western Pacific and a squadron of the advanced F-35B fighter jets to Japan – proving that US imperialism is the biggest threat to peace in the Korean Peninsula and the Pacific.
This US bellicosity contrasts with the recent warming of relations between the north and south Korea, demonstrated by the successful joint participation of their athletes in the Winter Olympics – an unprecedented symbolic gesture for the divided nation. President Kim’s visit to China is also a momentous event that recalls the history of friendship between the peoples of Korea and China, forged in the struggle against Japanese and then US imperialist aggression since World War II.
Closer ties between China and the DPRK and between south and north Korea have the immediate effect and higher potential of pressuring and persuading the US to sit down and negotiate with the latter for a peace treaty that would finally end the state of war and tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
The ILPS is united with all peace and justice loving peoples in demanding the withdrawal of US troops and weapons from South Korea. We demand that the US stop issuing threats of nuclear annihilation, stop imposing economic and military blockade and other forms of sanctions and stop conducting provocative war exercises against the DPRK. We support the just aspirations of the Korean people for the peaceful reunification of their Fatherland. ###